“It’s super fun.”
That’s why Aaron Gundersen creates a haunted house on Halloween each year.
Actually, it’s The Haunted Parlor, and it’s set up inside his garage.
“It started as a yard display about 10 years ago,” Gundersen explained. “I moved it into the garage, so I don’t have to worry about bad weather.”
He sets everything up starting about five days before Halloween, but he works on it all year.
Did we mention he opens it to everyone for free AND hands out candy, too?
“The biggest payoff for me is seeing people enjoy it,” he said. “That’s a big adrenaline rush, seeing people walk through it and laugh.”
New this year
Gundersen, who works as a graphic designer for the Kenosha Public Library system, adds new stuff all the time, which he finds at garage sales, online sales and even from museums or haunted attractions that have closed.
A new feature this year is “a skeleton zombie coming out of the ground,” Gundersen said of the piece inspired by the movie “Creepshow.”
Also new is “a huge bird cage with two pie crows inside,” he said. Gundersen bought those items from a museum that closed in Denmark.
A cool new addition is a spider web gun that hooks up to an air compressor.
“It’s what they use at Disney World to create webs,” said Gundersen, who can’t wait to try out his new tool.
Overall, he said the Haunted Parlor is designed to be fun and not too scary.
“People come in to look at all the stuff,” he said. “The biggest compliment I heard was from a dad and his son who walked through last year. The dad told me ‘it was just like something at Universal Studios.’ That’s great to hear; that’s what I was going for, to make it really detailed.”
Gundersen describes the parlor’s full fireplace with antique books on the mantel as “the biggest wow factor” in his collection. It’s surrounded by portraits of people who supposedly lived in the parlor decades ago “and the main portrait changes its image,” he said.
He also gushes over an old Singer sewing machine that joined the collection and a Victrola.
“It mostly authentic items,” he said. “With some props, too.”
What scares him?
As for Gundersen, he’s a fan of horror movies in general (his favorite is the 2016 Brian Cox thriller “The Autopsy of Jane Doe”), was planning to go see the new “Halloween” on opening weekend and is afraid of heights and sharks.
If you don’t mind a bit of a drive, he recommends HellsGate Haunted House in Lockport, Ill. It was named the scariest haunted house in Illinois and the 11th scariest in the nation by HauntWorld, a haunted house magazine and publisher of an online haunted attraction directory with more than 5,000 listings. It features a zombie-infested woods, Lost Souls Cemetery and — new this year — dragon caves underneath the house!
Trick or treat!
As we head into Halloween, trick-or-treating action heats up.
Pleasant Prairie has trick-or-treating from 3 to 6 p.m. today, which sounds perfect.
Trick-or-treating in the city of Kenosha, Somers and Salem Lakes is 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Trick-or-treating is 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday in Twin Lakes, Paddock Lake, Bristol and Randall.
For years, the city of Kenosha also had trick-or-treat times on the Sunday afternoon before Halloween, and I joined the chorus of people demanding that trick-or-treating take place on Halloween and after dark.
I was caught up, like other adults, in a wave of nostalgia for my own childhood Halloweens, when we ran from house to house after dark on Oct. 31.
Those happy memories, however, may have blinded me to the reality that Oct. 31 can be really cold and really, really dark!
About six years ago, city officials gave in to the folks yelling “Make Halloween Great Again” and moved trick-or-treating to the night of Oct 31.
We’ve tried it “old school”; now, can we go back to the Sunday afternoon schedule? I want to greet children in cute costumes that I can actually see, and I don’t want them to have to knock icicles off their candy bars.
Whenever you head out seeking candy, remember: Dress warmly; stay together in groups or with an adult; only go to houses with a porch light turned on; and be careful crossing the street.